In the end, it wasn’t such a tough decision for Aaaron Murray after all to stay at Georgia.
The fourth-year junior quarterback considered leaving for the NFL, but said his mind was all but made up “as soon as the clock hit zero” in the Georgia Dome on Dec. 1. The Bulldogs had come five yards away from beating Alabama in the SEC championship game and getting to the national title game.
“I pretty much knew all along, deep down inside, that I wanted to come back,” Murray said today, less than 48 hours after announcing on Twitter that he was returning for his senior season. “I obviously didn’t want to base my decision off emotion. I really wanted to let that SEC game go by a little bit before I really made my decision. After that game, I’m like `I’m coming back, I’m coming back.’ I really needed to let that game go, play another game and great to get a win, clear my head, write down the pros and cons of everything, of staying and leaving, talk to my parents, talk to some other people who I know have my best interest at hand, but at the end of the day, I still felt deep down inside that I needed to come back for another year.”
Murray said he spoke to former NFL coach Tony Dungy, whose son played high school football with Murray. He talked to former Georgia quarterbacks D.J. Shockley and David Greene. He also spoke to former NFL quarterback Archie Manning, father of Super Bowl winning quarterbacks Eli and Peyton Manning.
“I know that coming back I’m not going to have any regrets,” Murray said. “I felt if I did decide to leave I would always have the regret maybe of what could have been, what might have happened if I stayed one more year. I didn’t want to live like that. I really wanted to give one more go-round.”
Murray said the NFL draft grade from the NFL underclassman advisory committee was that he had the potential be drafted as high as the third round. He liked that draft grade, he said, but Dungy told him there is room to improve his draft stock. The 6-foot-1 Murray joked again about “maybe I’ll grow a couple of inches.”
ESPN’s Todd McShay on Twitter called it a “smart decision” for Murray to return.
Draft analyst Rob Rang wrote after Murray’s decision that he he “currently ranks as NFLDraftScout.com’s top quarterback in the class of 2014.”
“I’m excited for the opportunity to be a four-year starter,” Murray said. “It’s a rare thing to be able to start four years especially at a big-time SEC school. I’m definitely blessed to have that opportunity and just excited about our team next year. We’ve grown so much over these past two seasons and really been able to put Georgia back on the map. It’s great to be a part of that and hopefully continue to get better and better every year.”
Murray touched on some other things:
–On this Twitter exchange last night about Katherine Webb, the now famous girlfriend of Alabama quarterback A.J. McCarron and the reigning Miss Alabama USA.
@aaronmurray11: Aj McCarrons girlfriend needs to become a Dawg fan #dawgsontop
@10AJMcCarron: @aaronmurray11 u don’t win enough bud!! #15
Murray laughed when the subject was brought up.
“It got crazy,” he said. “So yeah, I don’t really have much to say about that. It got crazy. My phone about 10 minutes ago was on like 20 percent battery and it’s only been off my charger for four hours. My phone’s been blowing up all day about it.”
–On watching Alabama whip Notre Dame 42-14 in the BCS title game on Monday night: “It was painful to watch. It was. Happy the SEC won of course. It showed the nation how good we were, I guess, to be able to play Alabama the way we did and we’re four yards, five yards whatever it was to be in that game. …It really shows the nation that we are back, that Georgia’s back.”
He said he hopes Georgia is a top five or top 10 team heading into next season.
–On what he wants to work on this offseason to become a more complete quarterback: “The biggest area is my mobility. I think when I got here, I tried to stress so much about being a pocket passer and staying in the pocket and making my reads.”
Now, he said he will look to “take off” more when things break down and get yards that way.
“Work on my speed a little bit more,” he said. “I think at my age I’ve gotten a little slower.”
He said he spoke with offensive coordinator Mike Bobo for 30 or 40 minutes by phone when Murray was in Tampa about improving his game.
–He said he hasn’t talked to backup quarterback Hutson Mason about his decision. The two saw each other at the team meeting Sunday night. Mason told the Marietta Journal that he’s “frustrated” after Murray decided to return, but that he still wants to end his college career at Georgia.
–Murray said he will “take a little break” on his pursuit a doctorate in industrial/organizational psychology.
“I’m kind of interested in broadcasting as well,” he said. “I think my little time on ESPN the other day got me a little excited. I’m going to continue to do some research with my professors along with some broadcasting classes as well. Mix up a little bit.”
By the way, not facing the cameras in the Butts-Mehre building today but still around was outside linebacker Jarvis Jones, the junior who is heading to the NFL after leading the nation in sacks and tackles for loss. He said he will be heading to Orlando to train for the NFL draft.
–Please follow me at Twitter.com/marcweiszer